LANSING, Mich. — Five Republican candidates won't appear on the August primary ballot, including two early front runners, James Craig and Perry Johnson.
The Board of State Canvassers’ deadlocked in a two-to-two vote Thursday afternoon, and it looks like some of these cases are bound for court.
“This is obviously an incredibly troubling matter we’re dealing with here," said Mary Ellen Gurewitz, vice chair of the Michigan Board of Canvassers. "With this vast number of…demonstrably false signatures submitted on behalf of many candidates.”
In the first part of the hearing, which took upwards of six hours, the Board of State Canvassers heard often emotional challenges to the Bureau of Elections recommendations to keep candidates off the ballot for errors or fraud in their petitions.
“I’m an adviser, I handle millions of dollars for my clients, and you associated me with fraud," said Michael Markey, one of the Republican candidates who was disqualified. "That’s a really, really big accusation that I think you took lightly that is huge on my career, and this is why normal people do not run.”
The Bureau of Elections found evidence that 68,000 signatures across 10 petitions are invalid, finding many signatures written in the same handwriting, the names of dead voters and addresses listed where voters no longer live. After Thursday’s ruling, that means the Republican field of candidates has shrunk by half.
“What we know is that, for at least 30 circulators, all of the petition signatures which they have submitted are false. We know that because there has been an examination of the petitions that each of them has submitted and no no valid signatures have been found," Gurewitz said.
The names you will see on the ballot in the GOP primary this August are Tudor Dixon, Ryan Kelley, Ralph Rebrandt, Kevin Rinke and Garrett Soldano.
There’s even been a slight shake up in the local race here in mid-Michigan to represent the Lansing area in Congress. The Board voted unanimously to keep Jake Hagg off the ballot due to insufficient signatures. That means Republican candidate Tom Barrett will be unopposed in the primary and is set to square off against Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin.
In a statement, the Michigan Republican Party says it is closely following the candidates who were kicked off Thursday and those campaigns should have their day in court.
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